Thanks for the survey results it has been very useful as ammunition for
deabte here, I thought you find this useful:
The findings of this survey nicely complement the research output of the
ESRC funded "Space, Place and the Virtual University" at Newcaste, which
uses case studies and is well worth a read for those who are making plans to
implement distance learning supported by ICT. The research makes interesting
reading and points to the need to plan ahead and for the need to change work
patterns. It also confirms the need for institutions to make strategic plans
in this area that include changes in policy, organisation and resourcing.
Here is the web site for the Space, Place and the Virtual University
If you would like to download the pdf file containing the research article
referred to above, here is the URL:
University of Stirling
Tel: + 44 (0)1786 466879 or + 44 (0)1786 466224
Fax: + 44 (0)1786 466880
> From: Liz McDowell
> Reply To: Liz McDowell
> Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2001 9:41 am
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Teaching distance learning courses - summary of comments
> A few weeks ago I posed a question about lecturer workloads in relation to
> distance learning (in a 'conventional' university). Thanks to those who
> replied and here is a brief summary for those who are interested.
> The general view was that university managers (and I guess popular
> opinion) is that distance learning is a cheap option whereas, in fact, it
> is just as intensive in staff time, if not more so than face-to-face modes
> of teaching. The bulk of lecturer time is spent on two kinds of activity:
> first the upfront preparation of materials; and secondly, throughout the
> course, lots of time spent in communication with students (email,
> discussion lists, telephone and so on) – advising and helping them,
> giving feedback, dealing with problems; updating information they need;
> discussing course topics; encouraging and motivating students; organising
> student groups etc etc! The size of the student group you are teaching is
> therefore crucial in distance learning.
> Now for the information people gave me about current practice. The
> workload allocation policies I was told about ranged from:
> * No workload allocation at all for teaching distance learners -
> except, perhaps, for the first stage of materials preparation.
> * A workload allocation similar to a 'normal' course. So if a
> particular module would have taken 3 hours per week in teaching hours
> (class contact) lecturers would be given 3 hours for teaching a distance
> learning version.
> * Workload allocation based on both the size of the module being
> taught and the numbers of distance learning students.
> Those working in other contexts should note that most of my replies came
> from people teaching in the UK in 'new' universities or teaching on HE
> courses in Further Education colleges. There is an approach in these
> settings to calculating workloads on the basis of 'teaching hours' which
> has conventionally meant 'class contact' hours. Of course, there are many
> local variations on the detail of how this is done in practice. One or
> two people commented that this approach was a very unhelpful starting
> point for working out what staff time was really needed for teaching
> distance learners.
> There was some discussion about whether there was a limit to the number of
> distance learners lecturers could cope with. One college had found that a
> lecturer could work effectively with about 20 distance learners in the
> equivalent of about 25% of their normal teaching workload. In another
> context lecturers were limited to 76 distance learners if that was their
> full teaching workload. If you do the calculations that comes to about
> the same thing.
> It was disturbing to get reports of some very difficult situations which
> lecturers had found themselves in with lots of distance learners to teach
> and no time in which to do it. Going back to the first point I made, I
> guess we have to keep raising the issue where we can, to persuade managers
> and others that distance learning needs teachers and it is not just a
> cheap option. We still then need a fair and practical way to estimate what
> amount of staff time really is involved.
> Liz McDowell
> Networked Learning Project Manager
> University of Northumbria
> Newcastle upon Tyne
> UK, NE1 8ST
> Tel. 0191-227-4483/3048